Clark Fork Coalition
Protecting and restoring the Clark Fork watershed since 1985

Clark Fork Named One of America's Most Endangered Rivers.

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Our Work

Clean Smurfit Now

The Smurfit-Stone pulp mill operated on the banks of the Clark Fork River near Frenchtown from 1957 to 2010, discharging enormous amounts of wastewater into the river. More than a decade after the mill closed, the 3,200-acre industrial site is still leaching harmful chemicals into the river and our aquifer. It’s time to clean it up.

Sitting along four miles of the Clark Fork downstream of Missoula, Montana, Smurfit-Stone is poisoning the groundwater and river with dioxins and heavy metals. These pollutants threaten fish and wildlife and put the health of Tribal subsistence fishers at risk.

In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that International Paper, WestRock, and Wakefield are the companies responsible for fixing this mess. EPA began site studies in 2015 but it still has not completed adequate sampling. Rigorous sampling of contaminated soil and water is critical to ensure a thorough, science-based cleanup.

Full cleanup is still decades away. It’s time to start.

Cleanup of the Clark Fork and its Floodplain Cannot Wait Another 13+ Years

We commend the EPA for committing to conduct additional sampling to adequately characterize the site’s contamination. Once this sampling is complete, the EPA must move quickly to remediate the site and should prioritize action on roughly 140 acres at the heart of the site contaminated with dioxins, furans, manganese, and other highly hazardous waste sitting in unlined waste and sludge dumps. We know that these pollutants are in contact with groundwater—which then flows to the river. The Clark Fork cannot serve as a permanent disposal mechanism for Smurfit’s pollution.

Not only are the dumps leaking, the only thing separating much of this wasteland from the river is a crumbling berm that’s riddled with rodent holes. You can listen to experts discuss the history of the site, how the river moves within the floodplain, why it’s unsafe to eat the fish, leaking contaminants, the illegal burden of the berms, and more on our podcast.

LISTEN to Toxic: The Mess at Smurfit-Stone

After decades of citizen action and tens of millions invested in restoration, the hardworking Clark Fork River is finally on the mend. And yet the contaminated Smurfit-Stone site continues to pollute the river we’ve all worked so hard to clean up. It’s time to do something about it.

No more excuses. We can clean up the hazardous wastes at Smurfit and stop the daily trickle of toxins into the river.

You Can Help

Tell the EPA it’s time to clean Smurfit now.

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